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Though social networking is an activity heavily associated with younger generations, in 2010 31 per cent of Internet users aged between 45 and 54 used the Internet to post messages.

Whilst it is a positive step that we can now talk, search, shop, play, find love and experience all of the other far reaching benefits of the Internet, as with everything in life, there can't be a positive without a negative.

Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) is the term used to describe excessive computer use which begins to interfere with daily life.

As it stands, IAD is not officially recognised as a clinical disorder, though an increasing body of research and evidence is establishing internet addiction as a public health concern, with many leading health experts now advising it be officially recognised as a clinical disorder.

According to the Gambling Commission there are an estimated 236,000 to 378,000 problem gamblers in Britain.

Whilst problem gambling has been an issue for a number of years now and there are many associations and support groups offering help and advice, the ease and availability of gambling online has made it more accessible than ever.

Though each counsellor will have their own unique way of working, sessions may involve exploring different ways of dealing with certain urges and triggers and exploring the origins of the problem and the underlying reason for your addiction.

A counsellor may also use a technique known as cognitive-behavioural therapy, which is a way of changing an individuals thoughts and behaviours surrounding a certain act or issue.

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The vast majority of online gamers are able to strike a balance between gaming, work, friends and family, but unfortunately for some the compulsion to play online games becomes uncontrollable meaning that other areas of real life are neglected.

Anyone wanting to relieve the stresses, strains and issues which are present in their everyday life can use the Internet as an outlet for these negative feelings as it can provide temporary comfort, company, and entertainment.

Certain individuals may find themselves at a greater risk of becoming addicted to the Internet, for example those who engage in little social activity may try to build new relationships and relate to others by using chat rooms etc.

There are various symptoms of Internet addiction, and each individual is likely to experience a different set.

However, below are some key indicators to be aware of: As mentioned throughout this fact-sheet, escapism is a factor which draws many people to the Internet.

Counselling is a safe and confidential way of exploring your addiction and the affect it is having on your well-being and fulfilment.

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